Monday, January 17, 2011

My first real win in Mandarin

On Sunday I discovered that Houston Chinese Church sells New Testaments that are in traditional Chinese characters with the pinyin transliteration above each character. That's exactly what I've been looking for; so I snatched it and then started reading the Sermon on the Mount. Well, it didn't take long to figure out that the pattern...






derénshìyǒude
_________


...means, "Blessed are the __________." Literally, it seemed to mean, "People who ________, are having ;" so I was guessing that maybe 福 means "blessed." So last night I asked Helen about it.

Her answer was that actually means "a blessing;" so we have, "People who ________, are [people] having a blessing." Now Chinese is starting to make sense to me; so I could actually see how that fit...and then I got an idea. So I said, very carefully:

"我是有福的, 你是我的福 [wŏ shì yǒu fú de, nĭ shì wŏ de fú]." Which seemed to me to have a nice little parallel rhythm to it, and which I devoutly hoped meant, "I am blessed -- you are my blessing."

Now, Helen has several different laughs. There's a sort of high girlish giggle that I get whenever I've tried to speak Mandarin and said something unintentionally comic. And there's a deep (for her) sort of throaty, satisfied chuckle that I get whenever something makes her really happy. So I delivered my line and waited for the "that's funny" giggle. When instead I got the happy chuckle, I knew before she even said so that I had gotten it right.

I live for that happy chuckle, by the way...

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